Books are good for your brain
Turn yourself into a bookworm. These techniques will help you read more.
Reading books can exercise your brain and even boost your emotional intelligence. Despite this, about a quarter of all Americans haven’t read a book in the last year and our overall book-reading time is on the decline.
In the new year, it’s time to buck this trend. But how do you find the time to read full-length books—and why should you bother in the first place? Continue reading
Politicians Hate That
Government officials should use the success of the competition as an educational moment.
There’s no better sign of success than an escalation in attacks by your enemies. Based on such evidence, homeschooling is enjoying a boom, as growing numbers of families with diverse backgrounds, philosophies, and approaches abandon government-controlled schools in favor of taking responsibility for their own children’s education. As they do so, they’re coming under assault from officials panicking over the number of people slipping from their grasp.
There’s little doubt that homeschooling is an increasingly popular option. “From 1999 to 2012, the percentage of students who were homeschooled doubled, from an estimated 1.7 percent to 3.4 percent,” reports the National Center for Education Statistics. While the government agency suggests that growth has leveled off since then, other researchers say data is hard to come by, since many states simply don’t count people who homeschool. Continue reading
By now, many parents know there is something seriously wrong with the average American school. Time and again, children go into the school system as bright bundles of energy, curious about the surrounding world, and time and again, they stagger through the system frustrated and losing their interest in learning. Unfortunately, parents have firsthand knowledge of what former New York teacher John Taylor Gatto explained in his book, Weapons of Mass Instruction:
“After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”
That’s easy enough to say, but is it actually possible to do? Continue reading
My eight-year-old daughter and I recently read about the Salem witch trials. She had heard about Salem from a friend who visited the nearby town during its popular Halloween festivities, and she was curious about the witches. We went to the library to get some books on the topic of how 20 innocent people were put to death for “witchcraft” in 1692, with scores more accused and jailed.
What struck me most about revisiting the Salem Witch Trials with my children was the fact that these English Puritans who had recently settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony had no presumption of innocence. Those accused of a crime at the time, both in the New World and elsewhere, were guilty until proven innocent. The presumption of innocence in trials, with court defenders and impartial juries, would take centuries to catch on. The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” was coined by an English lawyer in 1791, but even then it took a long while to become the legal precedent we all now take for granted. Continue reading
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a Kansas state freshman Republican representative hopes to help struggling college students burdened by the already high cost of textbooks via tax relief. Rep. Rick Hoheisel suggests that Kansas exempt all textbooks from the statewide 6.5% sales tax, thus saving students money each year they buy new books for their curriculum.
Rep. Hoheisel is a recent college graduate and remembers quite well that he would have to shell out big bucks each year simply to afford required reading. While Kansas cannot control the price of textbooks directly, the state government can control the taxes imposed on said products. Continue reading
Many people still consider “homeschooling” to be a religious farmstead cult instead of a legitimate form of education. Yet on average, homeschoolers are far out-performing their publicly-educated peers in almost every subject.
According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA),
In 1990, the National Home Education Research Institute issued a report entitled “A Nationwide Study of Home Education: Family Characteristics, Legal Matters, and Student Achievement.” This was a study of over 2,163 homeschooling families. Continue reading
…for my friend, Charles Dickens
Lost portrait of Charles Dickens
Portrait of a thirty-something Charles Dickens as he looked when he wrote A Christmas Carol was found caked in mould at a South African market 150 years after it vanished
A youthful portrait of British writer Charles Dickens that went missing for 150 years went on display in London in late November, 2018 after being found covered in mould next to a metal lobster at a market in South Africa.
The miniature watercolour and gouache portrait by Margaret Gillies, valued at £220,000 pounds was painted in 1843 as the young Dickens, then in his early 30s, was writing ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The painting shows the Victorian writer clean shaven, with long, wavy hair, looking over his left shoulder, a contrast to the more common image of an ageing Dickens, with long bushy beard and messy, balding hair. Continue reading
The paper money that funded the American Revolution led to post-war grievances, the most well-known of which was Shays’s Rebellion in back-country Massachusetts. For years after the war the Boston legislature imposed taxes, falling mainly on those least able to pay, for the full payment in specie of the highly-depreciated notes issued during the war and held mostly by well-to-do legislators and bankers. As a further aggravation, the war was fought mostly by those on whom the taxes fell, while the elites stayed home. (See the Nobel-worthy Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle by Leonard L. Richards)
Petitions for redress having been ignored by the legislature for several years, town leaders in western Massachusetts organized marches, beginning in August 1786, to shut down the courts, demanding that the state constitution be revised. Eventually, through force of arms, the government put a halt to the uprising while mischaracterizing it as a refusal of the poor to pay their just taxes. Continue reading
It is National School Choice Week and a new poll indicates growing support for school choice options.
The American Federation for Children released the poll last week, which shows continuing strong, across-the-board support for educational options. Continue reading
Huckleberry Finn and Jim
Huckleberry Finn is no hero, though he does symbolize the American conscience at the time Mark Twain wrote, or at least the conscience Twain hoped for. Yes, Huckleberry Finn is a coming-of-age tale and a social criticism and satire, but it also asks crucial questions: Who actually changes? What type of American will change?
…and 4 Challenges
When deciding whether or not to homeschool your child, it’s important to keep in mind both the positives and negatives of homeschooling.
All parents want what’s best for their children. But when it comes to schooling, the field of choices can be murky and the decisions difficult. Parents don’t always get a close look at what goes on in their kids’ schools, nor can they fully understand the demands of homeschooling until they’ve made the leap. Continue reading
In a decision last week, the European Court of Human Rights has undermined its claim to being the “conscience of Europe” and pitted parents against children.
The Wunderlich family wanted to do what thousands of families in America do with no questions asked: educate their children at home.
But homeschooling is not allowed in Germany, and the state has relentlessly pursued the Wunderlichs and even seized their children. Continue reading
In 1875, Rev. Moses Drury Hoge stood before 40,000 people in Richmond, Virginia, at the foot of the newly dedicated statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and delivered what one historian called the “noblest oration of his later life.”
He believed that in the future, the path to that statue would be “trodden” by the feet of travelers from “the banks of the Hudson, the Mississippi, [and] the Sacramento…from the Tiber, the Rhine, [and] the Danube.” They would be accompanied by “Honor” and “Freedom,” the twin principles by which Jackson lived and died and which these pilgrims would seek to celebrate. Jackson represented the best of American society and his memorial reminded not just America, but the world, of patriotism, heroism, and duty, the highest traits of Western Civilization and of all dead heroes. Continue reading
Photo by Tobias Aeppli
Writing in The Atlantic, Paul Barnwell says that students today have a “broken moral compass” because “The pressures of national academic standards have pushed character education out of the classroom.”
One of the reasons I wrote A Gift of Wonder was to share a picture in which character education is integrated with academics. I discovered that this approach made my lessons engaging and thus made it easier for students to grasp the academic content because they were never bored. Continue reading
A new bill has reportedly been pre-filed in South Carolina that would require high school students in the state to take a personal finance class.
Under the legislation from Republican state Sen. Luke Rankin, high school students would be required to take at least one half-credit personal finance course and pass a test at the end of the school year in order to graduate, a local ABC station recently reported. Continue reading
The story of a man who showed the world how a peaceful, non-governmental system can flourish.
This is a story about a philosopher, entrepreneur, lawyer, economist, abolitionist, anarchist—the list goes on. As his obituary summarizes, “To destroy tyranny, root and branch, was the great object of his life.” Although he is rarely included in mainstream history, Lysander Spooner was an anarchist who didn’t merely preach about his ideas: He lived them. No example illustrates this better than Spooner’s legal battle against the US postal monopoly.
Born in 1808 in Athol, Massachusetts, Lysander Spooner was raised on his parent’s farm and later moved to Worcester to practice law. Eventually, he found himself in New York City, where business was booming—but not for the Post Office. Continue reading